Workers in France will now be protected from receiving emails from their boss after 6pm, following a new union deal.
The agreement, signed by tech industry employers and several unions in France means many companies are now forbidden by law to contact employees electronically after their work day is over.
Under French law, companies must maintain a strict maximum 35-hour working week. France became the first country in the world to implement such a rule in 1999, but the advent of widespread smartphone use is believed to be violating this rule.
The union represents 1 million of France’s tech-sector employees and will now be asking its members to simply avoid responding or looking at any digital methods of communication sent to them after the 6pm deadline.
Staff will be ordered to switch off their professional phones and avoid looking at work-related emails or documents on their tablets and computers.
Businesses will be required to ensure that workers are under no pressure to check their messages.
The statutory agreement will hit employees in some of the technology sector’s most high-profile companies, including the French arms of Facebook and Google, and others such as Deloitte and PwC.
The question remains how some of the world’s largest tech companies with offices in Paris but headquarters in California, such as Google and Facebook, will react to the news. The time difference between France and California is nine hours, which means all email from California will have to occur no later than 9am Paris time.
French workers are reportedly rather pleased with this decision, with chairman of the General Confederation of Managers, Michel de la Force, saying a break from the screen was necessary.
“We must also measure digital working time. We can admit extra work in exceptional circumstances but we must always come back to what is normal, which is to unplug, to stop being permanently at work,” de la Force said.
A study suggested that 39 per cent of workers and 77 per cent of managers used their smartphones, tablets and computers for professional purposes in the evenings, during weekends and on holidays.
Critics say it will impose further red tape on French businesses, which already face some of the world’s tightest labour laws.